Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Why I Choose Linux

Filed under
Linux

By Don Crowder

I never liked Windows. My Apple II+, which didn't have a hard drive and had only 48 Kilobytes of RAM, was a dinosaur by comparison to my first Windows machine but the Apple was an old friend who I understood and spent hundreds of pleasurable hours learning how to use. Windows, from the first, seemed unnecessarily complicated, adversarial, and difficult to learn. I learned it but there was little joy in the process. Maybe that's why Linux captured my interest and imagination from the first time I heard about it (back in nineteenmumble) but I was reluctant to just jump in and give it a try because it was difficult to imagine how anything free could truly be any good. After all, you get what you pay for; that's how the world has always worked.

When it became possible to buy a copy of Mandrake or SUSE Linux I avidly read every word I could find and agonized over which I should try and how was I going to get my hands on another computer because I wasn't letting go of my Windows machine until I knew how to use Linux. A few more years passed while I waffled and worried. In the end I resigned myself to becoming a competent, if reluctant, Windows user.

Things started to change when somebody gave us a Ubuntu live CD. Lisa and I enjoyed experimenting with it and later, after we switched from dial-up to DSL I learned how to download ISO files and burn my own live CDs. We tried over a dozen Linux distributions, decided that we both preferred KDE to Gnome and were especially fond of PCLinuxOS.

Using Linux became a doable reality when I lucked into a nice used computer. I installed PCLinuxOS on it, set Lisa up with a KVM switch (sharing her monitor, mouse and keyboard with her XP machine) and went looking for another used computer for me. All I could find (that I could also afford) was an older machine and the nicest distro I could get to run on it was Debian Sarge (via the net install). Sarge required a lot of post-install tweaking but I actually enjoyed learning to use it. For 25 years I was an electronics technician; I enjoy fixing things. It's what I do.

A lot has happened since then. Etch replaced Sarge as the stable version of Debian and Etch doesn't require any of the 'really geeky' post install tweaks but it has it's own set of useful tweaks that enable it do all sorts of things I could never figure out how to do in Sarge. What was once my new Windows machine is running Debian Etch and I have a slightly older, slower machine next to it, running Windows XP (which I almost never turn on anymore). I won't stop using Windows altogether because I have friends, family and a few hundred ezine readers who still use it. I don't want to lose touch with them but I, finally, have other options and that makes me very happy.

If I had no other reason for preferring Linux to Windows, these two would suffice:

1. For the first eighteen months after I started using Linux I didn't know how to install a firewall or anti-virus software so I just did without them and never had a problem. I've since installed both but don't always remember to turn them on. When I do turn them on, they seem to consume only a tiny fraction of my system resources.

2. If I notice anything different after updating my Linux machine it's only that things seem to work a little better and none of my system settings are ever altered in the slightest by updates.

Linux has not only been free, it's paid me rich dividends. I've used Linux for a little over two years and in that time I've learned more about the 'insides' of a computer than I learned in the preceding twenty years. For me, learning something new has always been the best payoff of all.

Sounds familiar...

I, too, was an avid Apple II user, but I followed that up with a Mac. Then it was Windows. The world seemed to all be shifting toward this standardization. No one was going to use anything else. The nails were being put in the Mac's coffin...

My formidable years were spent on Apple II machines. ProDOS...Applesoft BASIC... It was all fun. It was the perfect hobbyist's computer, for the time. But somewhere along the line, someone felt that they had to take all the fun out of computing. Windows was such a beast. It was serious. All the software titles seemed to mean business. What a drag... Now, it's even worse with DRM and Microsoft's focus on the Xbox 360.

Then, I found Red Hat Linux 5.2, but couldn't figure it out. I upgraded to 6.0...still no luck with this thing, but I pressed on. But then...I discovered Mandrake 7.0. It had KDE and URPMI. I started to make sense of it all. My life has never been the same, since. I've pretty much left Windows far behind. Linux is so much fun. There's so much to learn - so much to explore.

I'm happily using PCLinuxOS after jumping around a few distros over the years. I'll never look back. I still miss my Apple IIGS, though!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

RancherOS: A tiny Linux for Docker lovers

Like the various Linux server and desktop distributions, the container-oriented Linux distributions mix and match various projects and components to construct a complete container infrastructure. These distros generally combine a minimal OS kernel, an orchestration framework, and an ecosystem of container services. RancherOS not only fits the mold, but takes the minimal kernel and the container paradigm to extremes. Read more

Review: System76’s Galago Pro solves “just works” Linux’s Goldilocks problem

The Linux world has long maintained a very specific rite of passage: wiping the default operating system from your laptop and plugging in a USB stick with your favorite distro's live CD. Some of us get a little, dare I say, giddy every time we wipe that other OS away and see that first flash of GRUB. Of course, rites of passage are supposed to be one-time events. Once you've wiped Windows or OS X a time or two, that giddiness vanishes—replaced by a feeling of annoyance, a kind of tax on being a Linux user. Read more

Didier Roche: Ubuntu GNOME Shell in Artful: Day 3

After introducing yesterday a real GNOME vanilla session, let’s see how we are using this to implement small behavior differences and transforming current Ubuntu Artful. For more background on this, you can refer back to our decisions regarding our default session experience as discussed in my blog post. Read more

GNOME and Debian: Debian Turning 24, GNOME Turning 20

  • Debian Celebrates Its 24th Birthday
    Yesterday marked GNOME turning 20 while today Debian developers and users have its 24th birthday of the project to celebrate.
  • GNOME desktop environment for Linux and BSD is 20 years old today
    When many people think of Linux, they incorrectly assume it is an operating system. Actually, Linux is merely the kernel which many operating systems leverage. An actual operating system is compromised of many things, including a user interface -- after all, users need to interface with their computer! Most computer users will obviously want a graphical UI nowadays, and for BSD and Linux-based operating systems there are many such desktop environments from which to choose. One of the most popular environments is GNOME. Not only is GNOME a DE, but it has evolved into much more, such as a collection of apps and design rules (Human Interface Guidelines). Today, GNOME is celebrating a very important milestone -- it is an impressive 20 years old!
  • Happy birthday, GNOME!
    The GNOME desktop turns 20 today, and I'm so excited! Twenty years is a major milestone for any open source software project, especially a graphical desktop environment like GNOME that has to appeal to many different users. The 20th anniversary is definitely something to celebrate!
  • Linux desktop GUI GNOME celebrates its 20th birthday
    By 1997, there had long been graphical Unix and Linux graphical user interface (GUI) desktops, but none of them had gathered much support. KDE, which was destined to become a major desktop, had started in 1996, but it was still facing opposition for its use of the Qt license. The GNOME Project, founded by Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena Quintero on August 15, 1997, was created to build a GUI without the use of any non-General Public License (GPL) software. Thus, a struggle began between the two Linux desktops, which continues to this day.